ENHANCING THE SALES PROCESS FOR A LEADING WEALTH MANAGEMENT FIRM

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1 ENHANCING THE SALES PROCESS FOR A LEADING WEALTH MANAGEMENT FIRM Fariborz Y. Partovi, Drexel University, (215) , Cynthia A. Conway, Wilmington Trust Company, (302) , Carl W. O Brien, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, (732) , Bruce W. Carthon, State Farm Insurance, (215) , ABSTRACT In 2006, a leading wealth management firm set a milestone to be recognized as the provider of choice for comprehensive, multigenerational wealth management services in America by At that time, the firm was ranked 15 th. They partnered with a team from Drexel University s Executive MBA program to help them determine how best to leverage their strategic thinking to improve the sales process; and determine which promotional initiatives provided the highest ability to increase sales. Using the Strategic Service Vision (SSV) and Quality Function Deployment (QFD) methodology, the EMBA team provided a framework for optimal decision making for the firm. Key Words: Strategic Service Vision, Quality Function Deployment, Wealth Management, Enhanced Sales and Service, Prioritizing Marketing Initiatives INTRODUCTION A leading wealth management firm (the Firm), founded in 1903, has consistently been at the forefront of their industry with innovative ways to meet and exceed the needs of high net worth individuals and their families. By 2006, it had grown to serve clients in all 50 states and 22 other countries. Having enjoyed a leadership role of being one of the largest personal trust providers in the United States, it was eager to establish that same top-of-mind prestige as a comprehensive wealth manager in the minds of the marketplace, offering trust, investment management and family office services. To accomplish this, the Firm set a 2010 goal to be recognized as the provider of choice for comprehensive, multigenerational wealth management services in the United States versus the 15 th position it held. Many initiatives were identified to ensure this goal was met. One of those initiatives included the development of a business design and value proposition to help the organization break out from beneath the sea of sameness within the industry. As a result of that work, a communications platform entitled, Peace of Mind and Performance was created. The leadership team decided to implement it throughout the marketing, sales and service areas of the organization as a means to establish a consistent way to promote the company and enhance the client experience. It was believed that consistent messaging, grounded on the wants and needs of the high net worth individuals, would enable staff to better articulate The Firm s Story to current and future clients. Recognizing time was of the essence, the Firm partnered with a team from Drexel University s Executive MBA (EMBA or the Team) program to help them determine how best to leverage their strategic thinking to improve the sales process; and determine which promotional initiatives provided the highest ability to increase sales.

2 CURRENT ENVIRONMENT The Firm s wealth advisory business line experienced tremendous growth and expansion between 1996 and It acquired two companies, and opened five offices in four states in less than seven years. In 1996, the sales force totaled 20 business development officers, with 15 located in Delaware and 5 located in Pennsylvania. At the end of 2006, the sales team consisted of 50 individuals located in fifteen locations throughout the United States. 25 were located in the mid-atlantic region and the remaining 25 in offices located in New York, Georgia, Florida and California. Due to the sophisticated, entrepreneurial, and highly customized nature of the business, developing a standardized way to market and service the business was deemed unnecessary. As the company expanded outside of the greater Delaware region, however, it became very clear that standard guidelines for how they sell and service the client would be crucial to maintaining the exemplary level of expertise and service clients over multi-generations had come to expect. It was also determined that the relationship management model in place was a differentiator and needed to be leveraged to maintain their competitive advantage. So, what should the Firm do to leverage this national sales team? They wanted to preserve the innovative and interactive nature of how the Firm s relationship managers openly and collaboratively worked with the client, experts and the client's account service team. At the same time, they also needed to standardize the use of consistent messaging and wealth planning approaches to ensure one consistent, premier client experience nationwide. OVERVIEW OF METHODOLOGY The EMBA team determined that the best approach to addressing these two questions was to utilize a framework developed by James Heskett during the 1980s called the Strategic Service Vision ( SSV ) concept and the Quality Function Deployment ( QFD ) model developed in 1972 at the Mitsubishi s Kobe shipyard ( Partovi, 2001 ). The SSV concept was an ideal approach to answer the first question, because it is specifically designed to identify the key front and back room processes involved in an activity. Once processes are identified, they can be categorized based on importance and their relationship to key client wants. Before finalizing the communication platform, the EMBA team believed it was important to ensure that everyone at the Firm had a thorough understanding of not just the key processes involved in selling to prospective clients, but how each process related to specific client wants. Once these key processes and client wants were identified and agreed-upon, the Team would be in a much better position to recommend specific initiatives in the communication platform that would differentiate the Firm s approach from the rest of the field. As for the second question, the Team believed the QFD model was ideally suited to help the Firm s management to prioritize and select four initiatives to complement the communication platform and drive increased sales. Originally, the QFD approach was developed to assist decision makers in manufacturing settings. However, it can also be applied to a service environment very effectively. The QFD model takes into consideration the interrelationships between the primary client-wants and the key processes identified though the SSV concept.

3 To tackle the issues, the Team created three interrelated QFD matrices. QFD 1 (Figure 1) identifies the primary client wants by market segment, and assesses how well the Firm is currently addressing those wants. QFD 2 (Figure 2) evaluates to what degree the key client wants were impacted by the key processes identified through the SSV concept. Lastly, QFD 3 (Figure 3) assesses how specific initiatives would affect the key processes, which would have the most impact on meeting clients wants. Choosing initiatives that had the highest correlation to their clients wants would put the Firm in the best position to meet its sales goals. A final, but important, step in the methodology was validation, a critical component of operations management. In many cases, validation can be achieved by discussing preliminary conclusions with key stakeholders with different perspectives on the processes under review. For this project, the Team elected to present both the SSV and QFD findings to the National Sales Manager, Head of Financial Planning and Wealth Management and the Chief Operating Officer before finalizing their recommendations. STRATEGIC SERVICE VISION The Firm s wealth management decision-making clients are 60% male, age 65+ years and 40% females, and age 55+ with $10 million or more in investable assets. A younger group of high net worth decision makers are also valued men and women, age They are predominantly American with global reach; well-educated with limited interest in technology. These individuals are multi-generational families with inherited wealth, executives, entrepreneurs, business owners, and their advisors; often conservative in nature and need to feel valued; willing to take advice yet want to be listened to and respected. In support of the business design initiative, the Firm utilized a proprietary 2005 research study entitled Millionaire Insight Research ( Market Research, 2005 ) to understand high net worth clients satisfaction level with their major wealth service provider. The survey identified key characteristics or drivers of satisfaction for high net worth individuals with $10 million or more in investable assets. These were used to develop the company s communications platform. The EMBA team used these same characteristics for the strategic service vision analysis. OPERATING STRATEGY To best correlate the ability to deliver what the client wants Peace of Mind and Premier Performance, the Team developed flowcharts for both front and back room sales and service processes. Through this exercise, the Team identified that the Firm had the potential to deliver Peace of Mind when a prospect is trying to identify a wealth management firm to interview through national and regional marketing activities that reinforce the stability, knowledge and expertise of the company coupled with one point of contact who values and understands them, is objective and acts in their best interests at all times. This is then reinforced in all meetings, conversations and events with the prospect. All advisors will be trained to present the company, its capabilities and strategies consistently. The company will also take great care in assigning an advisor that fits the client from an interpersonal and knowledge-based perspective to ensure the advisor can represent the client and deliver the issues/needs most effectively to the expert team he/she assembles and leads.

4 Premier Performance translates into a clear and articulate understanding of the issues for clients promptness, accuracy, account management, and portfolio performance. All these things are expected to be done with the utmost integrity and productivity. The Firm has the potential to deliver this service concept when the advisor listens skillfully in all meetings and then selects the expertise needed to meet client needs. The voice of the client will also be represented by the advisor in strategy development and finalization. Experts will also be present and assist in the presentations to clients so expertise and knowledge can be demonstrated directly to the client and ensure nothing is lost in translation. The physical presence of the expert team also demonstrates the commitment to the need for the client to feel the Firm is providing value for money for fees paid. QUALITY FUNCTION DEPLOYMENT ANALYSIS The EMBA Team also identified (via the proprietary study) that the Firm had tremendous opportunity to gain new high net worth clients today by reinforcing performance (specifically client service and portfolio performance) to younger high net worth individuals. As it might be expected, increasing age correlates with an increased tendency to stay with their current wealth management provider. However, client loyalty to firms diminishes with age and many, especially those under 45, are open to what other providers have to offer and will consider switching to another provider. The Quality Deployment Function tools ( Partovi, 2001 ) (in Figures 1, 2 and 3) were used to analyze the current book of business specific to age groups and percentage mixes opposite two of its competitors. This helped to prioritize the most important needs of the client and prioritize projects that the Team believed would help to increase sales to the target audience defined earlier in the document, with an emphasis on younger high net worth individuals with decision-making authority. FIG. 1 QFD1: Primary Client Wants by Age; Goals to Increase Sales by 2010 PRIMARY CLIENT WANTS Market Mix% Stable Company Trusted Advisor Expert Knowledge Premiere Client Service Above Market Returns SEGMENT < Age % 18% 1, Age 35 to ,500 30% 26% 5, > Age ,000 54% 56% 7, Total 3, ,000 90% 100% 14, Weighting % % 25.4% 10.3% 18.3% 10.3% 18.3% 17.4% High Ethical Standards Good Value Current Situation U.S. Trust Merrill Lynch Company Goal Improvement Ratio Weighting Factor Normalized Score %

5 FIG. 2 QFD 2: Key Processes Ranked by Client Want KEY PROCESSES Importance Weights Learn about Firm/Capabilities PRIMARY CLIENT WANTS Stable Company Trusted Advisor Expert Knowledge Premiere Client Service Above Market Returns High Ethical Standards Good Value Total 2, Weighting % 100.0% 21.3% 13.9% 15.7% 11.7% 13.9% 15.2% 8.3% 5.6% Determine Expertise Lead the Team Develop Wealth Mgmt Strategy Finalize Wealth Mgmt Strategy Present Wealth Mgmt Strategy Outline Account Servicing Discuss & Clarify Issues/Ideas FIG. 3: QFD 3: Key Service Delivery Initiatives Prioritized for 2007 Implementation SERVICE DELIVERY INITIATIVES Importance Weights Advisor Training (WT Story) KEY PROCESSES Learn about Firm/Capabilities Determine Expertise Lead the Team Develop Wealth Mgmt Strategy Finalize Wealth Mgmt Strategy Present Wealth Mgmt Strategy Outline Account Servicing Discuss & Clarify Issues/Ideas Total 2, Weighting % 100.0% 26.3% 0.0% 6.6% 9.1% 15.1% 25.9% 5.7% 11.3% Final Ranking Client Contact System Portfolio Reporting System National Advertising Campaign Nationwide Client Survey Financial Planning Process Regional Event Marketing Client Service Training RECOMMENDATIONS As previously discussed, QFD analysis is designed to tie product offerings and service delivery systems directly to client wants and needs. QFD 1 shows that high net worth individuals primarily look for the following qualities in choosing among wealth management firms: a stable company, a trusted advisor, premier client service and high ethical standards. Based on QFD 2, it was determined that these wants are most directly impacted by the following key processes in the sales cycle: learning about firm capabilities, leading the team, and presenting wealth management strategies. Therefore, initiatives

6 designed to improve these key processes will have the largest impact on future sales. In QFD 3, eight different initiatives were analyzed in order to select the four most closely aligned with client wants. Based on this analysis, the Team recommended the Firm move forward with the following initiatives: Advisor Training, The Financial Planning Process, a National Client Survey and Client Service Training. VALIDATION PROCESS Of the recommendations made to the Firms senior leadership, they were most impressed with the focus on enhancing the Financial Planning process to improve the important activity of Developing the Wealth Management Strategy. After considerable dialog, it was determined that the process could be further enhanced by making additional investments in the number of financial planners available in each of the Firm s regional markets. By upgrading the financial planning tools and adding staff, financial planners could be available to accompany the relationship manager on qualified sales calls, service calls and firm-to-firm meetings. This would be particularly helpful to relationship managers who are not well versed in all areas of wealth management expertise and expedite the ability to develop the appropriate financial or estate planning strategy to meet the client need. They were also very supportive of the Advisor Training recommendation as a means to improve the Developing the Wealth Management Strategy activity. In addition to training the advisor on The Firm s Story, the idea was generated to train relationship managers on How to listen for issues that trigger the wealth management planning process. This training directly supports the financial planning process and further improves our ability to create, develop and deliver comprehensive financial strategies. CONCLUSION The SSV process helped to identify eight important activities within the Firm s wealth advisory sales process to fully leverage the communications platform Peace of Mind and Premier Performance. The recommendation to develop primary messaging to substantiate how each of these key processes is unique to the Firm was approved for implementation in The recommendation to put these differentiating processes into action via staff training, and highlighting the Firm back office processes in marketing and sales materials ( without giving away the operational strategy) was also approved. The QFD process was an effective means of assessing key client wants and service delivery processes. It enabled senior leadership to select four specific initiatives that would have the most direct impact on the sales process. The final step, a validation meeting with key company representatives, was also extremely helpful. This valuable input allowed the EMBA team to modify one of their recommendations and gain assurance that all of our recommendations were consistent with the longterm goals of the Firm. References are available upon request from Fariborz Partovi or Cynthia Conway.

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